‘We are disappointed but the fight is far from over’

Preston New Road Action Group
Preston New Road Action Group
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Disappointed residents today said the fight will go on after Lancashire County Council planning officers recommended the go-ahead be given to one proposed fracking test site on the Fylde.

Planning officials said a bid by Cuadrilla to drill and frack for gas at a site off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton should go ahead as long a strict conditions were met.

However a bid to frack at a second site at Roseacre was recommended for refusal because of the effect on narrow country lanes in the area.

Both decisions will be made by councillors on the Development Control Committee next week, but the officers report is seen as a significant part of the evidence they must rule over.

Despite yesterday’s approval for the proposal in their area, members of the Preston New Road Action Group said the battle was far from over.

Patricia Davies, group chairman, said: “We are really pleased for Roseacre. We fought the campaign together. But we are very disappointed about the recommendation - but that is all it is.

“We know when we put the facts before the council they will see how damaging the application is. People do not want this. We are hoping the council will take this on board.

“We were all very, very disappointed but in some ways it’s not unexpected. There are many, many issues to consider. The fight is far from over.”

Claire Stephenson, 36, from Wesham, organised a petition to governors at her children’s school in Weeton over her concerns about the process.

She said: “We put in a petition about our fears but Lancashire County Council is not moving on that. I think it is a lack of respect for the health of our children which is most concerning. It is only one mile away. It is really not good.

“We trust LCC to respect people’s opinions. People do not want this.”

John Tootill, of Preston New Road, added: “I can say I am disappointed but I am not surprised. There were some suggestions at the weekend this could happen.

“I am very confident that the voting members will vote against the application and throw it out.”

Susan Holliday, 52, of Foxwood Chase added: “It is disappointing but at the end of the day it is a recommendation. It is not the final recommendation.

“This makes our job more difficult over the next few weeks. We still have to go down the determination process and I hope and pray the council will see sense and make the right decision.”

Elizabeth Warner, from the Roseacre Awareness Group, said they were relieved that the planning officers had said the application should be refused near their homes but added they were disappointed for their counterparts living near Preston New Road.

She said: “Fracking is abhorrent to many.

“To others who may admit its uses, and we are not among them, they find that Cuadrilla’s lack of respect for the planning process is staggering.

“With Roseacre Wood Cuadrilla chose a site that challenged all planning policies and the traffic issue proves this.

“It is right in the centre of rural Fylde with narrow lanes serving agriculture and settlements, so it was an unsupportable application from the start.

“Greater respect for planning and its objectives is required.

“Development cannot be sanctioned in any place, at any cost.

“That was what was required for Roseacre Wood and Cuadrilla should now withdraw its application.”

Barbara Richardson, chairman of the Roseacre Awareness Group, said they were taking nothing for granted and would be presenting strong evidence to strengthen their case against allowing fracking near their homes.

She said: “While obviously we are relieved the officers have recommended refusal, we are horrified that they said it should go ahead at Preston New Road.

“They have similar issues to those at Roseacre on health, well-being and noise and espceially visual impact.

“Having a fracking rig on one of the main roads into the tourist resort of Blackpool would be terrible.

“We have other evidence, not just on the traffic issue which it has been recommended for refusal on, and will be making our presentation on Friday to the councillors to strengthen our case.

“We don’t know if Cuadrilla would appeal if Roaseacre was turned down but we want to back the traffic issue up with what we believe is a compelling case for refusal on many grounds.

“Now we will be going through the officers’ 800 page report in detail to respond to what has been set out there.”